The meaning of victory
Chris Bower's declares victory in the OH-02 race even before a single vote has been cast and he is absolutely right:
Even if he loses, which remains the most likely outcome, the Hackett campaign has turned a corner of Ohio a little more purple, which in turn turns the state and the nation a little more blue. We have drained money from Republicans nationally, spread our message to one of the reddest parts of the country, and identified numerous activists to help keep up the fight in the future. That is a huge success. That is called building a party from the ground up. That is a fifty-state strategy. That is ending the scourge of the uncontested. Stuart Rothenberg may think I am clueless for supporting and encouraging stuff like this, and if he were the one talking to the grassroots about political strategy instead of bloggers, maybe the Paul Hackett phenomenon would never have happened. That, I think, would be a tragedy. If someone can't see the importance and the already achieved success of the Paul Hackett campaign, then they are the truly clueless.
It's like the Dean campaign. I've said, ever since he dropped out of the presidential race, that Dean didn't lose. He did everything, and more, that he set out to do when he entered the race. Indeed, he exceeded far beyond anyone's wildest expectations (does anyone REALLY think he thought he could be a contender?)
Democrats have got to get beyond the simplistic win/loss assessment of individual votes and start thinking in terms of the expectations game. Even if you don't win the vote, if you exceed the expectations, especially by a wide margin, you influence the overall course of politics. And that is what we want. Because the more the course is shifted in the right direction the greater the chances that we will start to "win" in the electoral sense.